If you or a loved one has been arrested for statutory rape, then call Los Angeles statutory rape attorney Ambrosio Rodrigue immediately. Mr. Rodriguez was a prosecutor for over 13 years.
During his time as a prosecutor, he led the Sex Abuse/Child Abuse Unit, focusing exclusively on sex crimes. He understands how the prosecution builds a case against you and will use this knowledge to fight the charges against you. Do not speak to the police. Call now for a free consultation.
Understanding What Statutory Rape Is
You can be charged with statutory rape for having sex with someone under 18 years of age.
As defense attorneys, two of the questions we receive most frequently are:
What if the victim wants to have sex? (Why is sex with a minor illegal even if they are a willful participant?)
- Legally speaking, minors cannot give the consent that is necessary. In California, only those who are 18 years of age or older can legally consent to sex.
The other question we often hear is: how is statutory rape different from other crimes of rape?
- The main difference between statutory rape and rape is the age of the victim. The act of sexual intercourse with a minor is illegal because of the victim’s age.
California Statutory Rape Law – Penal Code 261.5 PC
California’s statutory rape law can be found in Penal Code Section 261.5 PC. Statutory rape is defined as “an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the person is a minor.”
Essentially, it is a crime to have sex with another person if they are under the age of 18. This applies even if you are also under the age of 18.
When you are charged with statutory rape, the prosecution must be able to prove:
- You had sexual intercourse with another person;
- That other person was under the age of 18 at the time; and
- You were not married to each other at the time of the sex.
Penalties for Statutory Rape
In California, statutory rape can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The primary factor for determining what penalties you may face is the age difference between you and the minor victim.
The greater the disparity in age, the more severe the penalty. For statutory rape, the magic number is three (3).
- If are less than three (3) years older than the minor victim, the crime of statutory rape will be charged as a misdemeanor.
- If you are more than three (3) years older than the minor victim, the crime of statutory rape could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
- If you are over the age of 21 and have sex with someone under 16, you will be charged with felony statutory rape.
Misdemeanor statutory rape is punishable by up to one year in jail, summary probation, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Felony statutory rape is punishable by probation with up to one year in jail or 16 months, two years, or three years in prison. If you are over the age of 21 and the minor victim is under the age of 16, the jail sentence can be extended to a term of four years. Felony statutory rape may also be penalized by a fine of up to $10,000.
Defending Accusations of Statutory Rape
There are two main defenses to statutory rape in California: mistake of age and false accusation.
Mistake of Age
If you can prove that you had a reasonable belief that the victim was over the age of 18 you may be able to defeat charges for statutory rape. Evidence that may be helpful in proving that you reasonably believed that the victim was not a minor include:
- The victim’s fake ID;
- Misleading or false statements made by the victim;
- The location where you and the victim met, if that location would normally be frequented by adults; and
- Witness statements to support the fact that you were honestly mistaken about the victim’s age.
Unless you are caught in the act, statutory rape is often a “he said, she said” type of case. If there is bad blood or tension between you and the alleged victim, it is possible that they could falsely accuse you of having sex with them.
Consent is NOT a Defense
While consent is not a defense to statutory rape in California, there are other defenses that you may be able to argue. The best way to determine which defenses may be appropriate for your case is to hire an experienced defense attorney. We will:
- review the facts of your case,
- interview witnesses,
- review victim statements, and
- analyze evidence to determine which defenses may be helpful.
Speak with Los Angeles Statutory Rape Attorney Today
Have you been arrested for statutory rape in California? If so, do not hesitate to contact Los Angeles statutory rape attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez today. A conviction for statutory rape can lead to lengthy terms of imprisonment and hefty fines. You could also potentially carry the burden of a criminal record for the rest of your life.
A criminal record, especially one that reflects a sex crime, will affect every aspect of your life. The best way to limit these consequences is by ensuring that you have a powerful defense. Contact our Los Angeles office today for more information about how we can help you defend against charges of statutory rape.